Recently, thanks to Pope Francis hosting a Vatican summit on nuclear disarmament, I learned that previous Popes hadn’t completely condemned Nuclear Weapons being kept as a deterrent. Honestly, this has shocked and angered me.
The Church has thoroughly condemned any use of nuclear weapons:
‘Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.’ (Gaudium et Spes n. 80)
But for some reason, it has stopped short of condemning nations from keeping them, “just in case”, or as they prefer to say, as a deterrent. What kind of moral theology allows us to keep ourselves ready to commit a grave sin, in certain circumstances? Or to keep ourselves ready to murder millions of innocent men, women and children, and in fact, perpetually threatening to murder them? What could allow us to justly threaten, what would every single time be a grave sin, and a “crime against God and man himself”?
I believe unilateral Nuclear disarmament should be a “pro-life” issue, taken at least as seriously as matters like abortion. We should demand it from our politicians, and not call anyone pro-life who doesn’t.
Actually… That last paragraph would make the Catholic Church no longer pro-life, since in Gaudium et Spes n. 81, speaking about the need for disarmament, it says, “not unilaterally indeed”. I should note, that this is not in the context of a moral pronouncement, but an exhortation to disarm and achieve peace, and is therefore not to be considered infallible. Still, I shouldn’t say the Council Fathers were not pro-life.
But I do think they were wrong to include those three words. It cannot be moral to keep yourself ready for a grave sin, nor to threaten innocent lives, for any ends– even peace. As foolish as unilateral disarmament may be, is it not the only moral option?
God bless you
P.S. Here’s a link to pictures of a Pontifical High Mass being celebrated in the ruined Cathedral of Nagasaki in June 1949, less than four years after the bomb hit Nagasaki